Field Of Dreams
CAC SDL coach Turner Humphries writes about a great week in Kolkata, India with Slum Soccer.
December 18th 2015. In Kolkata we were playing on a recently built artificial turf field behind one of the local schools. Before the field was built (by our partners Chevrolet FC in May!) this area was steered clear of by most of the community, as it became a haven for drug and alcohol use and other antisocial behavior. The addition of this new field has seen a transformation in the community, and a once crime ridden area has become the focal point of positive activity.
Shabaz, a participant from Kolkata, describes what this field has meant to him. “Most of the members of this community enjoy football. Before there was this facility people were practicing in the streets at night, but the police would chase everyone away. That’s how we worked on our fitness – running from the police! Before this field was here this area had lots of problems with drugs, alcohol and other bad things. The people in the community did not feel safe. In a way this field has stabilized the community, you will not see anyone doing bad things around here anymore. Parents now feel comfortable sending their children here at night. Girls have been invited to play too. Everyone should feel safe here; it’s football, not bad-ball. Because of this field I have been able to start my coaching career. Without it I would have nothing.”
During our training the field would be surrounded by community members coming to hangout, chat with friends and to check out the coaches yelling ‘Boomshakalaka’ and dancing around singing ‘Mingle Mingle!’ The field is equipped with lights so the field is almost in constant use. The participants all took pride in the new facility, cleaning up every piece of trash before leaving. It was the ideal setting to go deeper into some of the issues troubling the community and work together to come up with solutions.
CAC continue our #PlayItForward partnership with Chevrolet FC and Manchester United in Yunnan Province, China.
December 14, 2015. Do you remember where you were the first time you ever played football? For many of the kids at the Huo Shan School in Yunnan Province, China, they can answer positively that their first footballing experience came this past week. As part of our continuing award-winning relationship with Chevrolet FC and their #PlayItForward initiative, we have been working at the Huo Shan school.
As experienced as Coaches Across Continents has become in our past 8 years of sport for social impact education, it is extremely rare that we come across a community that has little background in football. Towards the end of the first day after playing Circle of Friends and teaching passing skills, we set up small-sided scrimmages. For the first three minutes, not one player moved from their starting position, as they kicked the ball back and forth. Then, a light bulb went off – and a few players began chasing the ball, screaming with delight as they did so. It wasn’t long before we had a critical mass surrounding the ball, wherever it went on the school grounds, during their first-ever game of football.
Day 2 brought new revelations. As we walked inside the school gate, we could see kids practicing without their teachers the passing techniques they had learned the day before, smiling all the time, as they got better. When it came time to scrimmage, many of them came up with their own strategies on how to win the game. The most effective were the teams that elected to field three goalkeepers and two outfield players. Slowly and surely throughout the week, we continued to teach them more football skills and fill them in on a few rules – but making sure not to over-regulate their nascent love of the game.
Friday was the highlight of the week. In front of over five hundred community members, dance troops, a Chinese dragon, and the watchful eye of Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke and other dignitaries, the kids got a chance to play for the first time on their brand-new world-class field. The handover from Chevrolet FC to the Huo Shan School provided a platform for them to show everyone how much fun they were having, and learning, by playing. With this new facility, these students will have a place to pursue their love of the game.
Chevrolet’s #PlayItForward Reaches China
December 7th, 2015. For the past week we have been working in Shuanglang, China, located in the Yunnan province. Participants for the first week were teachers from seven different regional primary and middle schools, as well as volunteers from Red Chalk, Chevrolet’s charity initiative in China. The Red Chalk Program has been supporting education in rural areas in China since 2005.
“If we speak to the children it can be boring, but if we use sport to teach the children, it becomes a fun and effective way to educate and give social messages.” – Patrick; volunteer, Red Chalk Program.
During the first week of training Coaches Across Continents worked with the aforementioned local teachers and Red Chalk volunteers to impart a sport for social impact curriculum. The training was specifically designed to benefit the teachers and volunteers who work directly in schools, with CAC games that focused on education, the environment, health and wellness, and other life skills. A special curriculum was then designed that can be implemented by the participants during the 45 minute physical education periods. Joining the training on the final day were representatives from the Ministry of Education in Dali.
“I like the way that CAC taught and focused on the local needs of our community. It is excellent that you can work with the teachers, and we can spread knowledge and involve all our students to have a big impact.” – Mr Zhou; course organizer from Shuanglang.
This Friday, Chevrolet FC is unveiling a new soccer field at the Houshan school, located near Shuanglang. During the week CAC will teach Physical Education classes and will play games from our curriculum directly with the students and selected teachers. It is anticipated that for many students, this may be their first introduction to football in an organized setting. The highlight of this week will be the event day on Friday with special festivities planned around the launch of the new field.
“The best thing was learning new concepts of how to teach outside the classroom and how to put ideas and messages into the sports game was really fun and useful. I can understand education more deeply than before.” – Mr. Lee; Shuanglang Middle School.
This week, CAC educated and certified 26 teachers in the Shuanglang region and directly impacted 3,375 students. This is the seventh community of the partnership, and overall 578 teachers and coaches have been educated and certified with 63,705 children directly impacted.
We are India, and we ASK for Choice!
CAC’s Sophie Legros talks about another week in Nagpur, India with Slum Soccer.
June 4th 2015. All programs are different with CAC, but this week was especially so, and not only because of the record temperatures of 118°F! Instead of a usual CAC training and in continuation of our partnership with Chevrolet FC and Slum Soccer, I assisted Slum Soccer in running activities around their annual state and national women’s festival in Nagpur. U20 teams from all over the state and country came to play Homeless World Cup-style games in the evenings, avoiding the blistering middle of the day heat.
Slum Soccer and their leaders have embraced the culture of sport for social impact. Although teams were competing to win the state and national cup, On-Field sessions were organized in the mornings and classroom sessions later in the day so that players had a chance to learn and develop as individuals. I worked with both the girls and the Slum Soccer leaders on CAC’s new ASK for Choice curriculum. Games were played to teach about women’s rights, to question society’s attitudes regarding women and to reflect on what choices the girls want to make in their lives.
A game that went particularly well was Indonesia for Choice. Four teams stand in four separate squares and have to come up with a word that describes first a man and then a woman in their community. When two words are called out, the two associated teams play a game where they try to bring the ball into the square of the other team. It is not only a fun football game, it also allows for engaging discussions about society’s perceptions of women in men. The Slum Soccer leaders, being advanced in their understanding of the CAC curriculum and of the problems of gender inequality in their community, came up with honest, power, good listener and patient to describe a man and with education, empower, freedom and all-rounded for a woman. The Slum Soccer leaders are not only aware of the gender norms in their community, they have also reflected on what is needed to achieve greater gender equality.
Some of the young women we had worked with in Kolkata participated in the tournament. It was their first time playing in a tournament and probably the first time they had worn sports clothes. It was a true joy to witness the team’s evolution since the first time they walked onto the Chevrolet FC field just a few weeks ago. What Slum Soccer did particularly well was to make sure all teams, whatever their level, could participate. Teams of varying levels and experience, some having played for more than nine years at the national level, others just beginning, came together to celebrate women and sports.
On the last day, girls and Slum Soccer coaches shared their stories about how they started playing football and what impact it has had on their life. It was inspiring to hear these stories which served as a reminder for everyone that the value of sport far exceeds that of winning and losing.
Over the week, more than a hundred young women showcased their abilities and defied stereotypes that girls are weak and cannot play football. One of Slum Soccer’s greatest achievements is that the boys fully support the change. The official photographer was surprised at how much more exciting the women’s tournament was compared to the men’s, which took place a few months earlier, because in particular of the cheering on the sidelines. At the end of the week, the message was clear: “We are India and we ASK for Choice!”
EU SOU ALGUÉM! (I am somebody!)
June 1, 2015. This past weekend marked the opening of the sixth pitch by Chevrolet FC and their #PlayItForward campaign, this time in Caracol, Penha, a favela in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Partnering with Street Child United, Chevrolet is also a sponsor of the Street Child World Cup that was most recently held here in Rio de Janiero last year. A legacy of that event was the formation of a Street Child United in Penha. However, despite their training of the girls World Cup champion Favela Street, this organization did not have a home pitch of their own and shared various spaces around the community. The opening of the field changes all that. This pitch will be a focal point for the Caracol community. Already the locals have embraced this pitch as their own, checking on the progress and making sure they were around for the official opening on Saturday, May 30th knowing that they could start playing on the pitch immediately after.
Street Child United challenges the negative perceptions and treatment of street children. Their slogan “I am somebody” (in Portugese – Eu Sou Alguém) expresses their desire to give children an identity as well as the life skills necessary to succeed. Just like Coaches Across Continents, they do this through football. Our ten days of sport for social impact training and partnership will allow this new facility to be used to educate, and just as importantly to provide a safe haven for all children in the community.
“This is our place to play football & to be happy. The streets are not safe. We are safe here. Thank you Street Child United and Chevrolet FC” – Coach Drika, Favela Street, Street Child United
Joining the various local community leaders for the pitch launch was Street Child United ambassador Gilberto Silva, a 2002 World Cup winner with Brazil as well as FA Cup Winner, EPL Champion, and member of the “Invincibles.” His smiling presence and easy-going nature makes him approachable to children and community leaders alike, allowing himself to be a charismatic role model. After the field opening, the congregation made their way down to Ipanema, one of the iconic beaches of Rio, where they enjoyed a kick-around with Gilberto. It seems that he took it easy on the children, availing himself of any tackles – however he displayed his world-class abilities as he dribbled the entire team on one occasion.
Coaches Across Continents is a proud partner with Chevrolet FC, winners of the 2014 Beyond Sport Award for Corporate of the Year. Together we have educated communities in six countries since 2014, using a new pitch as a focal point for social change.
Protecting Street Children in Penha (Rio)
May 29th, 2015. Penha is a favela in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, located in the north zone. It is a favela which has tremendous social problems including drug trafficking and seemingly weekly shootings often involving the ever-present police. We are here with Street Child United which dedicates itself to improving the lives of street children and ensuring that they have access to the same rights as all other children. You may also recognize them as the hosts of the Street Child World Cup, their flagship event where they bring teams of street children from dozens of countries together to compete every four years.
However the impact that they have on the street children occurs daily, as they run training sessions with children in Penha. Our award-winning partnership with Chevrolet FC and their #PlayItForward campaign has allowed our two groups to work together for the past two weeks, collaborating as we implement a training plan that highlights specific aspects of our curriculum – most notably Child Rights and Conflict Resolution. It is easy to state that children should have certain rights, such as the right to education, the right to safe sport, and the right to a protected home – but if adults are not fighting to ensure those rights, how could they be ensured?
Our curriculum specifically teaches both coaches and children about the rights afforded them under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most important is that they are fun, extremely soccer-specific, and create a safe space for children to learn while they are playing (UN Child Right #31). Street Child United will take our curriculum and implement it into their training to ensure that their goal to create a world in which street children are protected, supported and given opportunities to realize their potential is reached.
Also joining the training this week were coaches from Favella Street and PlayLife, and our staff was joined by Camila, a Community Impact Coach from our São Paulo partner ACER. These coaches (all women) and girls who participated in training made this one of the most gender-balanced training sessions CAC have had. These powerful female role models are helping to ensure the rights of young boys and girls in Brazil and through Street Child, around the world.